GST pro­ce­dure yet to be stream­lined

Short­age of man­power and equip­ment has crip­pled the land cus­toms of­fice at Jaigaon

Business Bhutan - - Front Page - Kr­ishna Ghal­ley from Phuentshol­ing

With lim­ited staff and equip­ment, the Goods and Ser­vices Tax (GST) pro­ce­dure is still al­most on freeze at Jaigaon land cus­toms of­fice now called the Elec­tronic Data In­ter­change (EDI) port.

Cur­rently, the of­fice has four com­put­ers and four op­er­a­tors work­ing from 6am to 10pm in dual shifts.

How­ever, trans­porters feel that more staffs are re­quired to stream­line the GST

fil­ing pro­ce­dure at the port.

The cur­rent staff and equip­ment can file GST for up to 25 trucks a day; both im­ports to and ex­ports from Bhutan. But more than 50 truck­loads of con­sign­ments ar­rive at the gate daily. The stranded trucks are parked a few kilo­me­ters from the EDI port in or­der to re­duce traf­fic con­ges­tion. At present, more than 100 truck­loads are still wait­ing at the lo­ca­tion.

As an in­terim mea­sure, the of­fice has out­sourced GST fil­ing for­mal­i­ties to Cus­toms House Agency (CHA), a pri­vate agency des­ig­nated to as­sist the cus­toms of­fi­cials.

“The sys­tem re­quires a min­i­mum of 10 com­put­ers. The cus­toms of­fice alone can­not han­dle a work­load this mag­ni­tude,” said Pres­i­dent of Jaigaon Trans­porters Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion (JTWA), J.P Shri­vas­tav. He added that four staffs can­not work for 16 hours in two shifts and that ad­di­tional man­power is re­quired. An­other CHA is ex­pected to start work­ing next month.

How­ever, trans­porters also feel that since the Land Cus­toms Su­per­in­ten­dent needs to ap­prove the fi­nal fil­ing, adding staffs while only a sin­gle per­son is de­puted to ap­prove does not make sense.

Each con­sign­ment has to com­plete 13 pro­ce­dures to file GST at the EDI port which takes about 45 min­utes.

Ini­tially, the cus­toms of­fice used to file GST man­u­ally but has stopped do­ing so due to com­pli­ca­tions while claim­ing re­fund.

Both trans­porters of fin­ished goods and raw ma­te­ri­als from and to Bhutan have faced losses post-GST.

“The reper­cus­sions are huge. There are other im­pacts too,” said Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of JTWA, Naveen Sharma. The truck­ers also charge huge de­ten­tion fee cal­cu­lated on a per-day ba­sis to be paid by the traders.

A Bhutanese trader said that his shop has not re­ceived con­sign­ments for months now. The con­sign­ment that did ar­rive has been stranded at the EDI port for two days. “We have been try­ing to file GST but the of­fice re­mains busy al­ways. My con­sign­ment is stuck,” he said.

A Bhutanese trucker who has been stranded for two days said that he does not know what is hap­pen­ing. “We are wait­ing since yes­ter­day,” said Ugyen at the time of in­ter­view.

An In­dian mer­chant who has to de­liver goods to Bhutan said that his con­sign­ment has been stranded for 10 days at the EDI port. He is wor­ried about the de­ten­tion charges to be paid to the truck­ers.

“Un­til the 28% GST is ex­empted for traders, Bhutanese cus­tomers are less likely to reap ben­e­fits as traders do not re­ceive re­fund, which com­pels them to in­crease prices of goods,” he said adding that his busi­ness has de­clined af­ter GST im­po­si­tion.

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